Motorized “stuffed” animals—drive Valley businesses and themed tours


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Scary Rydables at Mesa ghost tour

Serena West, Reporter

Shane Dahlen of Tempe first envisioned rideable stuffed animals 10 years ago and pitched his idea to Mike Batt, also of Arizona.

Together, they started Rydables.

Rydables are mobile stuffed animals.

A scooter, (think large mobility scooter) is retrofit with a stuffed animal “skin.”

The skins are handmade locally by the American Bear Factory.

The duo thought the animals would appeal to a younger crowd, so they started Rydables in the mall as something young children could ride while their parents shopped.

They were surprised when their animal rides appealed to all ages.

“What we thought, originally, was going to be for kids 10 and under has turned out to be that—and so much more. Today, I would say 80% of our customers are over 18. It’s a unique product because it does appeal to all those ages. It’s the sort of thing that the whole family can do, from little kids riding with parents, to teenagers, to parents and even grandparents,” Dahlen said.

When online retailers began to grow in popularity, Dahlen and Batt took the Rydables out of the mall and began renting them out for parties, festivals, and zoos.

Wildlife World Zoo in Litchfield Park currently has 40 Rydables available for guests to ride and tour the park on.

Dahlen and Batt decided to start offering tours of their own.

In 2020, the Rydables ventured into Old Town Scottsdale for a themed tour and they recently added a new ghost tour in downtown Mesa.

His wife, Sandy Dahlen, takes pride in what they are doing for the small business community.

“We’re trying to help the local merchants, that was my number one thing that I was really concerned with—was being sure that we can help promote the small business owners because they’ve been here a really long time and they’re wonderful people. So, by us showing off their stores, all the stuff they have to offer, giving discounts, getting people to come back and visit–that’s the main idea,” Mrs. Dahlen said.

Businesses along the tour route offer discounts, specials and coupons to those who take a Rydables’ tour.

Additionally, Rydables tour-guides point out local restaurants and stores along the route.

The last stop on each tour is a local ice cream or gelato shop and a scoop of ice cream or gelato is included with every Rydables’ ticket.

“It’s just one way we can bring more awareness and traffic to the local businesses,” Dahlen said.

The 90-minute tours cost $69 for adults and $39 for children.